Cuckoo Finch Midmar Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Conservation status Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Passeriformes Family: Viduidae Genus: Anomalospiza
Species: A. imberbis Binomial name Anomalospiza imberbis
Crithagra imberbis Cabanis, 1868
The Cuckoo Finch (Anomalospiza imberbis), also known as the Parasitic Weaver or Cuckoo Weaver, is a small passerine bird now placed in the family Viduidae with the indigobirds and whydahs. It occurs in grassland in Africa south of the Sahara. The male is mainly yellow and green while the female is buff with dark streaks. The eggs are laid in the nests of other birds.
It is a small finch-like bird, about 11–13 cm long. It has a short tail, large legs and feet, and a large, deep, conical bill. The adult male has a black bill and a yellow head and underparts. The upperparts are olive-green with black streaks. The yellow areas become increasingly bright prior to the breeding season as the feathers become worn. The adult female is buff with heavy black streaking above and light streaks on the flanks; its face is largely plain buff and the throat is buff-white.
The species was described in 1868 by the German ornithologist Jean Cabanis based on a specimen from East Africa, probably from the coast opposite Zanzibar. It was initially placed in the genus Crithagra but later moved to a genus of its own Anomalospiza. The name of the genus means "anomalous finch" with spiza being a Greek word for finch. The specific name imberbis comes from Latin and means "beardless".
Its closest relatives are thought to be the indigobirds and whydahs of the genus Vidua. These birds are now usually considered to form a family, Viduidae. Previously they were treated as a subfamily, Viduinae, within either the estrildid finch family, Estrildidae, or the weaver family, Ploceidae.
Distribution and habitat
It has a scattered distribution across sub-Saharan Africa where it occurs in open or lightly wooded grassland, especially near damp areas.
In West Africa, it occurs in Guinea, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, eastern Nigeria and north-west Cameroon with vagrant records from the Gambia and Mali. Further east it is found in southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, southern and eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and locally in the Republic of the Congo. In southern Africa, it occurs in Malawi, Zambia, southern and eastern Angola, north-east Namibia, northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, eastern South Africa and Swaziland.
It typically occurs in pairs or small flocks during the breeding season and larger flocks outside the breeding season. It forages on the ground or perched on the flower heads of grasses or herbs. It feeds mainly on grass seeds.
It is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of cisticolas and prinias. The eggs are white, pale blue or pink with brown, reddish or violet markings. They are 17–17.3 mm long and 12.5–13 mm wide. The eggs are incubated for 14 days. The young bird fledges after 18 days and remains dependent on its hosts for another 10–40 days. The young of the host bird usually disappear although there have been records of the host's nestlings surviving alongside the young Cuckoo Finch. Sometimes two Cuckoo Finch chicks have been found in the same nest.
- ^ a b Payne, Robert (2010). "Family Viduidae (Whydahs and Indigobirds)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 15: Weavers to New World Warblers. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-45-3. http://www.lynxeds.com/hbw/family-text/hbw15-family-text-viduidae-whydahs-and-indigobirds.
- ^ a b c Sinclair, Ian & Peter Ryan (2003). Birds of Africa south of the Sahara. Cape Town: Struik.
- ^ a b c Zimmerman, Dale A.; Donald A. Turner, Donald & David J. Pearson (1999). Birds of Kenya & Northern Tanzania. London: Christopher Helm.
- ^ a b c d e Johnsgard, Paul A. (1997). The Avian Brood Parasites: Deception at the Nest. Oxford University Press.
- ^ a b c d McLachlan G. R. & Liversidge, R. (1981). Roberts Birds of South Africa. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 0620031182.
- ^ Lowther, Peter E. (2005). "Host list of avian brood parasites - 5 - Passeriformes: Viduidae". http://fm1.fieldmuseum.org/aa/Files/lowther/VList.pdf. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- ^ Kidd, D. A. (2003). Collins Gem Latin Dictionary. Collins.
- ^ Sorenson, Michael D. & Robert B. Payne (2001). "A single ancient origin of brood parasitism in African finches: implications for host-parasite coevolution". Evolution 55 (12): 2550–2567. doi:10.1554/0014-3820(2001)055[2550:ASAOOB]2.0.CO;2?journalCode=evol. PMID 11831669. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1554/0014-3820%282001%29055%5B2550%3AASAOOB%5D2.0.CO%3B2?journalCode=evol.
- ^ a b van Perlo, Ber (2002). Collins Illustrated Checklist: Birds of Western and Central Africa. London: Collins.
- ^ van Perlo, Ber (1999). Collins Illustrated Checklist: Birds of Southern Africa. London: Collins.
- ^ BirdLife International (2009) Species factsheet: Anomalospiza imberbis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17 January 2010.
- Media related to Anomalospiza imberbis at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Anomalospiza imberbis at Wikispecies
Family: Ploceidae Genus BubalornisWhite-billed Buffalo Weaver (B. albirostris) • Red-billed Buffalo Weaver (B. niger) DinemelliaWhite-headed Buffalo Weaver (D. dinemelli) SporopipesSpeckle-fronted Weaver (S. frontalis) • Scaly-feathered Weaver (S. squamifrons) Plocepasser HisturgopsRufous-tailed Weaver (H. ruficauda) PseudonigritaGrey-capped Social Weaver (P. arnaudi) • Black-capped Social Weaver (P. cabanisi) PhiletairusSociable Weaver (P. socius) PloceusCompact Weaver (P. superciliosus) • Black-chinned Weaver (P. nigrimentus) • Baglafecht Weaver (P. baglafecht) • Bertram's Weaver (P. bertrandi) • Slender-billed Weaver (P. pelzelni) • Loango Weaver (P. subpersonatus) • Little Weaver (P. luteolus) • Lesser Masked Weaver (P. intermedius) • Spectacled Weaver (P. ocularis) • Bannerman's Weaver (P. bannermani) • Bates's Weaver (P. batesi) • Black-necked Weaver (P. nigricollis) • Black-billed Weaver (P. melanogaster) • Strange Weaver (P. alienus) • Bocage's Weaver (P. temporalis) • Cape Weaver (P. capensis) • Eastern Golden Weaver (P. subaureus) • Holub's Golden Weaver (P. xanthops) • Príncipe Weaver (Ploceus princeps) • Orange Weaver (P. aurantius) • Golden Palm Weaver (P. bojeri) • Taveta Weaver (P. castaneiceps) • Southern Brown-throated Weaver (P. xanthopterus) • Northern Brown-throated Weaver (P. castanops) • Kilombero Weaver (P. burnieri) • Rüppell's Weaver or Rueppell's Weaver (P. galbula) • Heuglin's Masked Weaver (P. heuglini) • Northern Masked Weaver (P. taeniopterus) • Vitelline Masked Weaver (P. vitellinus) • Southern Masked Weaver (P. velatus) • Katanga Masked Weaver Ploceus katangae • Lufira Masked Weaver (P. ruweti) • Tanzanian Masked Weaver (P. reichardi) • Village Weaver (P. cucullatus) • Giant Weaver (P. grandis) • Speke's Weaver (P. spekei) • Fox's Weaver (P. spekeoides) • Vieillot's Black Weaver (P. nigerrimus) • Weyns's Weaver (P. weynsi) • Clarke's Weaver (P. golandi) • Black-headed Weaver (P. melanocephalus) • Juba Weaver (P. dichrocephalus) • Golden-backed Weaver (P. jacksoni) • Cinnamon Weaver (P. badius) • Chestnut Weaver (P. rubiginosus) • Golden-naped Weaver (P. aureonucha) • Yellow-mantled Weaver (P. tricolor) • Maxwell's Black Weaver (P. albinucha) • Nelicourvi Weaver (P. nelicourvi) • Sakalava Weaver (P. sakalava) • Streaked Weaver (P. manyar) • Baya Weaver (P. philippinus) • Asian Golden Weaver (P. hypoxanthus) • Finn's Weaver (P. megarhynchus) • Black-breasted Weaver (P. benghalensis) • Dark-backed Weaver (P. bicolor) • Preuss's Weaver (P. preussi) • Yellow-capped Weaver (P. dorsomaculatus) • Usambara Weaver (P. nicolli) • Olive-headed Weaver (P. olivaceiceps) • Brown-capped Weaver (P. insignis) • Bar-winged Weaver (P. angolensis) • São Tomé Weaver (P. sanctithomae) • Yellow-legged Weaver (P. flavipes) PachyphantesCompact Weaver (P. superciliosus) MalimbusRed-crowned Malimbe (M. coronatus) • Cassin's Malimbe (M. cassini) • Gola Malimbe (M. ballmanni) • Rachel's Malimbe (M. racheliae) • Red-vented Malimbe (M. scutatus) • Ibadan Malimbe (M. ibadanensis) • Red-bellied Malimbe (M. erythrogaster) • Blue-billed Malimbe (M. nitens) • Crested Malimbe (M. malimbicus) • Red-headed Malimbe (M. rubricollis) AnaplectesRed-headed Weaver (A. rubriceps) BrachycopeBob-tailed Weaver (B. anomala) Quelea Foudia EuplectesYellow-crowned Bishop (E. afer) • Fire-fronted Bishop (E. diadematus) • Black Bishop (E. gierowii) • Black-winged Red Bishop (E. hordeaceus) • Northern Red Bishop or Orange Bishop (E. franciscanus) • Southern Red Bishop or Red Bishop (E. orix) • Zanzibar Red Bishop (E. nigroventris) • Golden-backed Bishop (E. aureus) • Yellow Bishop (E. capensis) • Fan-tailed Widowbird (E. axillaris) • Yellow-mantled Widowbird (E. macroura) • White-winged Widowbird (E. albonotatus) • Red-collared Widowbird (E. ardens) • Marsh Widowbird (E. hartlaubi) • Montane Widowbird (E. psammacromius) • Long-tailed Widowbird (E. progne) • Jackson's Widowbird (E. jacksoni) AnomalospizaCuckoo Finch also called Parasitic Weaver (A. imberbis) (probably belongs in Viduidae) AmblyospizaThick-billed Weaver (A. albifrons)
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